3 years ago

Temporal variations in turbidity in an oil sands pit lake

Gregory A. Lawrence, Roger Pieters, Geoff Halferdahl, Edmund Tedford


We investigated temporal variations in turbidity in Base Mine Lake, an oil sands pit lake, located in northeast Alberta, Canada. The lake has a surface area of 7.8 km2, is 9 m deep, and exhibits seasonal thermal stratification similar to that of natural dimictic lakes. Water turbidity was measured continuously throughout the year with moored sensors, supplemented with turbidity profiles and bottle samples, from sites on the lake. During summer there was a gradual exponential (e-folding time of 25 days) decrease in epilimnetic turbidity due to relatively steady settling of solids from the epilimnion through the thermocline to the hypolimnion. Rapid oscillations (periods of approximately 1 day) in turbidity during summer were due to wind driven internal waves. Convective cooling and wind-shear driven stirring during fall storm events increased the turbidity to an annual high just before ice-on. During these storm events, similarity scaling indicated wind shear imparted greater energy than convective cooling to the turbulence at the base of the water column. Ice suppressed wind forcing and resulted in a rapid decrease in turbidity. The rate of decrease in turbidity following ice-on was initially greater than the rate of decrease in the epilimnion during summer, and then slowed until the under-ice turbidity was a relatively constant value which was sustained during the latter half of the ice-on period. The minimum turbidity during winter was greater than the minimum during summer. Following ice-melt in spring, wind driven stirring increased turbidity until summer stratification began.

Publisher URL: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10652-018-9632-6

DOI: 10.1007/s10652-018-9632-6

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